Conferences & Training
Communications and Reputation Management in HE - Programme

09:00-09:15 Registration and refreshments

09:15-09:30 Welcome from CASE Europe and Conference Chairs

Bruce Bernstein, Executive Director, Global Engagement, CASE Europe
Rebecca Renfro,
Former Director of Communications, University of East London
Jane Wakefield, Head of Communications, Bath Spa University

09:30 I Know Exactly What you Mean!

This opening session is a chance to speak to others who do the same or a similar job and share the pleasure (and pain!) of leading communications in higher education. It's a chance to meet new colleagues, share ideas, and start developing contacts and networks for the future.


Rebecca Renfro, Formerly Director of Communications, University of East London
Jane Wakefield, Head of Communications, Bath Spa University

10:15  Panel Discussion: Don't Mention ‘The Brand'

We all know reputation and brand are critical to engaging audiences - and Communications teams are increasingly playing a key role in this. But how do you manage your brand in a world where ‘brand' is a dirty word, in a sector where the ability to differentiate is limited and in an environment where your ‘customers' (i.e. students) can be your harshest critics?

The panel will look at how universities are innovating around the concept of brand, discuss the best ways to get a true understanding of your brand/ reputation and debate the thorny issue of how to own this conversation within a university where the leadership may struggle with the concept of brand and the loss of control that is part of modern brand management.


Chair: Jane Wakefield, Head of Communications, Bath Spa University
Alison Kerwin, 
Director of Marketing, University of York
Sue Wolstenholme, Managing Director, Ashley Public Relations
Kate Fielding, Head of Strategic Communications, The Natural History Museum
David Miller, Client Partner, Academic Programme Development

11:15 Refreshment and networking break

11:45 Elective Sessions (these will be repeated in the afternoon)

Each session will start with a case study type presentation (10 mins max) from one speaker and attendees will then split into round table groups to discuss the topic and share experiences and best practice. The emphasis will be on sharing ideas / discussing around the table - rather than listening to ‘experts'

A Crisis - The Ultimate Chance to Screw up your Reputation.

 Students: Do you Dare Put Them in the Driving Seat?

Brexit? That's Just One of My Worries!

Writing a good crisis plan is only half the battle, and by now we all know how to manage a crisis in theory.

But the reality is that the crisis comms plan is often not consulted in a real emergency situation. People (including senior management) often panic and it falls to the communications team to steer the university through the storm.

This session will look at the reality of managing a crisis focusing on how to manage and support the Vice Chancellor and other leaders of the institution and how to effectively influence decision making in a crisis.


Abi Kelly, Executive Director of Corporate Affairs, Newcastle University

Adri Bruckner, Director of Communications, Central European University

One of the truisms of marketing is that your brand is what your customers say about you when you are out of the room.

We all know that students are expert at communicating online and often in spaces invisible to University communications teams.

But there are also opportunities presented by the fact that your ‘customers' are on your doorstep.

In this session we will hear from universities who employ students to manage their comms channels. It is an opportunity to question whether it could work for your institution and if so, how do you go about persuading the senior team that it is worth the risk.


Rob Speekenbrink, Former Delft University, The Netherlands

'Change' is the buzz word in HE at the moment with REF, TEF and Brexit all likely to influence change at an institutional level. But how best to manage this when the leadership of the institution doesn't want to communicate - or (even worse?) wants to say too much?

This session will focus on the realities of overseeing internal communications in a university and the ways in which you can help your VC, senior leadership and Deans to effectively communicate in an environment where change has become the norm.


Jane Wakefield, Head of Communications, Bath Spa University and Corinne Evans, Head of Communications, University of Bath

13:00-13:45 Networking and lunch with exhibitors 

13:45 Morning Sessions will Repeat 

15:30 Panel Discussion: Comms is Dead. Long Live Comms.

Outside HE, the world of marketing and communications is changing. The traditional barriers between marketing and PR are coming down - and increasingly innovative agencies and organisations do not operate with these old-fashioned divisions.

At the same time brands are realising that they can't ‘own' their story in the way they used to, and are having to engage with customers in new ways - giving greater ownership of their brand to those who use the products and the agencies and individuals who work at the coalface of customer relations - including PR. The panel will talk about what this means in practice and suggest how the changes impacting on commercial organisations might translate to the world of HE.


Chair: Rebecca Renfro, Former Director of Communications, University of East London
Craig Ling,
Director and Head of Southern Region, Grayling
Jon Alexander, Co-Founder, New Citizen Project

16:45-17:00 Final thoughts
Bruce Bernstein,
Executive Director, Global Engagement, CASE Europe
Rebecca Renfro, Former Director of Communications, University of East London
Jane Wakefield, Head of Communications, Bath Spa University

17:00 End of forum

CASE Europe reserves the right to amend the programme at any time